InForm Conference 2016: Working with words – Supporting understanding of discipline-specific vocabulary in IFPs

Durham pic

On 16 July 2016 I attended the annual InForm conference, which took place at Durham University. InForm is a publication edited by staff from the University of Reading that provides a research forum for HE professionals working on international foundation programmes.

The conference presentations were very relevant to my EdD research project and dissertation as they all focused on the application of learning and teaching strategies in the foundation course sector. Of particular interest was the first key note speech by Prof. Michael McCarthy as he talked about the use of corpora to inform learning and teaching. In this context he reported how teachers react when confronted with their own language use in the classroom. This was particularly insightful as some of the teachers’ sentiments he described mirror the teachers’ comments in my data. Furthermore, the presentation by Aaron Woodcock from Reading University was very interesting for my dissertation topic as he outlined how he, too, takes a content and language integrated learning approach to his teaching practice, although he does not formally use the “CLIL” framework.

My own presentation on “Raising linguistic awareness through CLIL: A reflective practice approach for subject teachers” was well received. It was the last presentation of the day, but still attracted an audience of about twenty people. The presentation sparked some good discussions regarding the “authenticity” of the higher education experience of international students as well as the need for teacher development for academic subject staff. Overall, the feedback was very positive and some of the attending teachers commented that they felt my research topic was of great relevance to the sector.
On a personal level, it was good to catch up with former colleagues from INTO Newcastle University and from Northumbria University’s foundation programme. Also, I used the event for networking and had some interesting discussions with colleagues from Glasgow, Southampton and Durham Universities. Furthermore, I shared experiences with another EdD student from Durham University discussing our research projects, respective methodologies and general progress.

Overall, it was a really worthwhile conference and I enjoyed both attending as well as presenting a session and am grateful for the funding received from ECLS.

Written by Sandra Strigel, currently studying her Doctorate of Education (EdD)

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